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Imported a Gamecube - Thoughts and Opinions After One Week of Play (1 Viewer)

Jeffrey Forner

Screenwriter
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1,117
Thanks to a friend who notified me of an article at Link Removed which confirmed that a Japanese Gamecube could be modified to play U.S. games, I decided to go ahead and import. Last week I received the system, a controller, a memory card and two games, and now that I’ve had them for a week, I thought I would share my initial thoughts and impressions with you all. Plus, I wanted to enjoy the bragging privileges of a guy who has a highly anticipated videogame console a month before everyone else! :D
The Console
Let me begin by saying that I got the indigo-colored system, since that is the only one available in Japan. I know many of you wretch at the thought of owning a purple videogame console, but I have to admit that I like this color. It’s not tacky at all. Is it as sharp and sophisticated-looking as the black version? Probably not. Does the color make the system look like a toy? Yes, but I’ve always thought of videogames as toys anyway, so it doesn’t bother me.
I actually, think this color give the system an added visual flare sadly lacking in the shape of the console. Let’s face it—the Gamecube is just that: a cube that plays games. It certainly isn’t as stylish as the N64 (or even the Super NES). Hell, the original NES had more curves than this thing! Nintendo has clearly chosen to follow a more function-over-form approach with their new system, which is in some ways a good thing. The unusual color reminds us that this little box is supposed to be fun and enjoyable.
The system also features a reasonable build quality. A plastic shell encases the system, and the handle on the back is not at all flimsy like I had expected. I would say that this system couldn’t take as much physical abuse as the N64 could, but that has to do with the fact that this is a disc-based system and not a cartridge one. The moving parts, the lens all have to be treated with a tad more care, but unless you plan on playing catch with GCN instead of a ball, you need not worry about breaking it.
The Controller
After reading so much about Nintendo’s new controller, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Let me just say that they have crafted one hell of a controller! When I held it in my hands the first time, I wondered if Nintendo had taken a molding of my hands and designed a controller specially designed specifically for me. It is that comfortable. They accounted for very curve, every contour of the human hand. Your thumbs and forefingers neatly fall onto the main action buttons and main control stick. The innovative button layout works as was intended. It allows you to focus on gameplay instead of worry about hitting the correct button. I had worried that the A button (the largest button in the center) would be too big, but my fears were alleviated once I held the controller. You can easily hit three buttons at the same time with just your one thumb. It works very well.
The analog L and R shoulder buttons are a nice touch, and the extra click function looks like it will be promising. The only problem with those buttons is that sometimes in the heat of a game, I push too hard and activate the click function when I don’t want to. I hope I can learn not to do this for games like Rogue Leader, which use the extra click to open and close the S-foils on your X-wing.
The two control sticks feel very rubbery, giving the a slightly better grip than the plastic-coated control stick of the N64. And for you fighter fans who worry that the crosspad will be inaccessible, fear not. You can easily reach it with your left thumb.
Of course the biggest question is, will this thing hold up when you play those really frustrating games that cause you to throw the controller on the floor in complete disgust? I think so. I’d say the build quality is as good as the N64 controller. Of course, it doesn’t compare to the original NES controller, which was like a tank compared to these. : )
The Games
Rather than go into detail about the two games I got with the system, Luigi’s Mansion and Wave Race: Blue Storm, I’ll give you the pros and cons of each game as I see them.
Luigi’s Mansion
  • Great Graphics
    Wonderfully detailed characters, environments, lighting effects, and particle effects give the game an eerie cartoony quality.
  • Excellent Sound
    Dolby Surround Sound is put to good use in this game, creating subtle ambience affects.
  • Tight Control
    It may take a while to get used to using both control sticks, once you’ve mastered it, you’ll appreciate the added control you have over Luigi.
  • Interesting Puzzles
    There wasn’t anything particularly nasty or overly difficult about the puzzles. They were tricky, but fun to figure out.
  • Fun!
    Who would have thought that catching ghosts with a flashlight and a vacuum cleaner could be this exciting?
  • Repetitive
    The game is pretty much Luigi busting ghosts. That’s it. Also, there’s only one main background song through the whole game. Granted, it’s extremely catchy and they do give it a slightly different spin depending on where you are, but it’s still the same song over and over.
  • Short and Sweet
    This could be both good and bad. It’s not as big as most games, but since the gameplay is very repetitive, making it any longer would have caused the fun factor to drop significantly.
  • Overall
    A fun game, but I don’t think you should buy it. Rent it over a weekend. You should be able to finish it before you return it.
Wave Race: Blue Storm
  • Stunning Graphics
    The wave effects in this game will blow your mind! The level of detail in this game staggers me. This game truly deserves to be called a next-generation title in the graphics department.
  • Great Sound
    Everything about the audio in this game is dead on. The roar of the jet skis, the splash of the waves, and the crackle of thunderstorms are all captured faithfully in this game. Dolby Surround is also utilized so you can hear someone coming up from behind in your rear speakers.
  • Annoying Announcers
    Alas, as was the case in Wave Race 64, the annoying announcers are back, only this time out, each character has their own personalized announcer, who feels the need to say something every single time you go around a frickin’ buoy!!! Argh! I eventually turned off the voice altogether just so that I didn’t have to put up with it any more!
  • Excellent Control
    A couple weeks ago, another importer on this board lamented this game’s sluggish controls. At first I thought he was right, as I found myself having difficulty turning my character, but then I found that you need to use the L and R buttons in conjunction with the control stick in order to turn better. Once I figured that out, I realized that the control in this game is every bit as good as the original.
  • More In-Depth Gameplay
    Now whenever you go around five buoys, you can earn a turbo boost that will catapult you forward at great speed. This one new element adds a lot of strategy to the game as you have to prepare for straight-aways where it can be effectively utilized.
  • Good Course Variety and Number of Courses
  • High Difficulty Level
    I’ve made it through the Normal and Hard circuits, now I’m trying to get through Expert. Let me tell you, it’s going to take a while.
  • Smooth Multi-player
    Since I only have one controller, I haven’t been able to play any multi-player, but according to IGN, the four-player mode doesn’t slow down at all, making it a great multi-player game.
  • Overall
    Buy this game. If you liked the original, you’ll love this new version. In fact, I specifically command you to do so. If you own a Gamecube on November 18, 2001 or after, you must have this game. BUY IT!!!
So am I happy with my purchase? Absolutely. If these two games are any indication, there should be some awesome games on this console.
------------------
-J.Fo
"Why do I always get a warped one?"
 

Dean DeMass

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Jun 30, 1997
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1,826
Jeffrey,
Thanks for the review. I cannot wait until Nov. 18th. However, I am waiting until Christmas to get Wave Race. I only want to spend about $300, so I am getting a console, memory card, Star Wars, and Luigi. My wife cannot wait to get Luigi. She is a big Nintendo fan so adding another console in my home was pretty easy, even after my recent PS2 purchase. :)
We are getting the purple console since my wife's favorite color is purple, this also made the console a no-brainer for her. :)
My local EB received 10 more pre-orders yesterday, but I refuse to buy a bundle and pay the extra money for some bullsh*t magazines that I don't want. Plus I'll be playing my Gamecube about one in the morning while all the pre-order folks will have to wait untill 11:00 AM when the stores open on Sunday.
wink.gif

-Dean-
------------------
My HT Equipment
"I've seen you and you are not cool."
[Edited last by Dean DeMass on October 24, 2001 at 05:52 AM]
 

Morgan Jolley

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2 games, a GCN, and a memory card costs somewhere around $320. 2 games, an XB or PS2, and a memory card costs somewhere around $430! Isn't that a great thing?
 

Greg_S_H

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With one unimportant exception, I haven't purchased a console since the SNES. I need Rogue Leader, though. What a gorgeous game! I loved Rogue Squadron, and this looks to blow it away.
I'm not much of a console player anymore, but they claim they won't be porting RL to the PC. I don't want to spend the money, but I figure there will be other games to help justify the cost. I'm glad to see some numbers in this thread, but how much would just a system and Rogue Leader run me? Also, does anyone make flight sticks for consoles? That's what I use for Rogue Squadron, and I'm not sure I could get used to a gamepad.
 

James D S

Screenwriter
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Nov 14, 2000
Messages
1,000
Thanks for the review Jeffrey.
It does not bode well when Nintendo's marquee title is not worth buying. That's a shame.
But it sounds like we can expect some good things from the little purple powerhouse.
 

Jeffrey Forner

Screenwriter
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Jun 19, 1999
Messages
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James;
It may not be worth spending $50 for it, but it certainly is worth playing.
I actually think that Wave Race is the real marquee title in disguise.
------------------
-J.Fo
"Why do I always get a warped one?"
 

GaryP

Second Unit
Joined
Jul 9, 2000
Messages
264
Jeff,
I've looked at a few online photos, but I still can't tell what kind of packaging the games come in. Are they keepcase style or something different. Enlighten me at your earliest convenience
biggrin.gif

Gary
------------------
Hey bartender.....Joboo needs a refill.
 

GaryP

Second Unit
Joined
Jul 9, 2000
Messages
264
Kelly,
Although I didn't clarify in my initial post, I was indeed inquiring about the US versions.
Camp,
Thanks for the info.
Gary
------------------
Hey bartender.....Joboo needs a refill.
 

Jeffrey Forner

Screenwriter
Joined
Jun 19, 1999
Messages
1,117
Gary;
I've heard that the U.S. games will indeed come in DVD keepcases like the others have said. Unfortunately they'll all be in Snappers!
laugh.gif

The game cases I got are very different from what we'll get in America. The cases are clear plastic and much smaller than a typical DVD case. There is also a little slot in which you can put your memory card. (Does anyone know if that will be included in the American cases?) Also, there's a cardboard sleeve that slips around the plastic case, much like the tin shell on the Terminator 2 Ultimate Edition DVDs.
------------------
-J.Fo
"Why do I always get a warped one?"
 

Dan Brecher

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Jeffrey, were you not tempted to check out Monkey Ball? In having played the 3 Japanese launch titles I must say that has been the most enjoyable.
Dan (UK)
 

Jeffrey Forner

Screenwriter
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Jun 19, 1999
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Dan;
I do plan on getting Super Monkey Ball, but I want to wait until the U.S. release. I want to have some game in English when the system arrives in America. :)
Besides, the friend I mentioned in my initial post has it. I can just try it out on his Gamecube first. Apparently, he absolutely loves it so far, which bodes well for that game.
------------------
-J.Fo
"Why do I always get a warped one?"
 

Dan Brecher

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Oh videogames with monkeys rarely fail. :)
quote: Thanks to a friend who notified me of an article at IGN Cube which confirmed that a Japanese Gamecube could be modified to play U.S. games...[/quote]
Any word on what sort of process is involved to pull this off and indeed, how reliable it'll be? I notice the Link Removed made mention of a soldering gun which would indicate it's a somewhat tricky job... I'm still a little anxious over how easy it'll be for me to actually get a hold of US GC hardware next month... A modified Japanese purchase is somewhat tempting.
Dan (UK)
[Edited last by Dan Brecher on October 25, 2001 at 03:49 PM]
 
Joined
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Yes, once again, I am the friend Jeff referred to in his post, seems like that happens a lot, although I don't know if anyone notices.
Anyway, I love my Gamecube. I purchased Waverace and Super Monkey Ball. Both these games are very impressive. The biggest things being the graphics on Waverace and the sheer volume of things to do in Super Monkey Ball. It has no less than 6 mini-games, a couple of which could have been stand-alone games themselves.
After about a week of play, the thing that I'm most impressed with is how challenging these games are. I mean like, they are HARD! One thing that good console games tend to do is start you off with deceptively easy tasks and then pump up the difficulty a bit with each level. I've been away in the PC gaming world for the last couple years, and I had forgotten how addicting, and frustrating, this gameplay style can be. You just can't stop until you master it! This is exactly what I was looking for from the Gamecube, even if it means I get a bit pissed now and then :)
As far as the mod for playing US games go, there is still no solid information on how to do it yet, but it probably won't be long. There are people on the IGN forums getting worried, I just laugh. There has _always_ been a way to mod every console ever released, and there will be one for Gamecube.
 

Jeffrey Forner

Screenwriter
Joined
Jun 19, 1999
Messages
1,117
quote: There are people on the IGN forums getting worried, I just laugh.[/quote]
Yeah, I think it's funny how those people are freaking out about not having the mod info yet. There's still a good several weeks before Rogue Leader is scheduled to ship. Why do they need to do the mod now?
One guy even accused IGN of costing him money because they hadn't released the mod info yet. Apparently he wanted to do the mod, sell his Gamecube early, then buy a U.S. one when they came out on November 18. Why doesn't he just keep the one he imported??? Then he wouldn't have to go through all the trouble of trying to get his hands on another one when the U.S. version comes out. Besides, if he keeps the Japanese games he has, he'll need to mod that system as well.
Some people just baffle me.
By the way, Ben, I almost got first place on the Expert Circuit, but I missed it by one frickin' point!!! How frustrating is that?
furious.gif

------------------
-J.Fo
"Why do I always get a warped one?"
[Edited last by Jeffrey Forner on October 25, 2001 at 08:12 PM]
 

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